Sunday, November 04, 2007

Little Sis's Job Woes

I must start off by saying that I do not have the highest regard for my sister's career choices in the past. Instead of buckling down and finding a job that paid enough to live on and repay student loans, for many years she piddled around, getting deeper in debt, and blaming everyone and everything but herself.

My sister, Jamie, turned 30 last month, and she's had what I would consider her first 'real' job since last February. Before that she worked in a bar, worked IT for some guy who paid her a pittance but did pay for her truck and second college computer degree; she also worked sound design, scene design, lighting design, and other theatre and live show work.

Her first college degree was in theatre arts, and she wanted to do all the 'design' stuff I listed above. I'd say she had decent talent, but that business is difficult to earn a living in, jumping from job to job, show to show, theatre to theatre. I'm all for people following their dreams, but I think a good dose of financial-responsibility-sense should always be part of the mix.

Currently she is working in IT for some insurance company and really cannot stand it any more. Today she shared with my family some of the reasons why, and I have to say I almost laughed in her face. The things she sees as injustices against her are normal business practices and not underhanded in any way. She keeps saying she isn't getting paid enough, but I wonder how much she thinks she should be getting paid for just having earned her IT-related degree a year ago and not having reputable experience before then.

Her comments and behaviors remind me of when I interview recent college graduates. Many of them believe that they should be making $60k, $80k, $100k, right out of the gate just because they have a diploma, or because that's the amount they've decided they want to earn. Hey, knock yourself out, go for those high paying jobs when you're 22. Why not? And if you get one at that age, more power to you.

They also don't understand exactly how important 'experience' is. Taking a class on management, computer programming, acccounting, etc. may provide you with the basics, but what have you done with it? Tell me about your customers. What specificially did you do with your team to drive these results? Talk to me about issues you've had with coworkers and supervisors. How did you handle the issue? Give me examples.

So today when Jamie was talking about a few points she had issue with, my older sister, Dad, and I weighed in on our opinions and experiences. After a few minutes, Dad and older sis got up and left the table, and I was left to listen and try to explain to Jamie how, while she may disagree with the handling of the events, it sounded to me like her company was handling them correctly and fairly.

Of course she didn't want to hear any of it, but that doesn't stop it from being true.

I think she's finally getting her introduction into the world of business, where things such as pro-rated merit increases, additional responsibilities for salaried employees, and re-alignments/restructuring of personnel occur frequently.

Unfortunately, I don't know if she'll ever see it that way. She's never been very constant in her practices, and I think she's going to be a person who job hops for her entire adult life, always looking for the next best thing, just as she tries to do in her personal life. On the up side, she'll have a lot of new experiences. On the down side, she'll never give herself the chance to be at peace and really enjoy whatever it is she is currently doing, because she'll only focus on the parts she dislikes about it, rather than focusing on the larger parts that she does like.

To each her own, but I think that's a rather tiring and defeating way to go about one's life.

Any thoughts?


CatBoy said...

I am no position to criticize one's choices when it comes to employment, given my own.

But, I will agree that thinking a degree without any experience to back it up, being enough to get you a high-paying job right off the bat, is a bit naive. Or selfish, or just plain dumb.

As far as moving from one thing to the next, I'm not sure. Because there is the opposite extreme of the people who stay in the same job no matter what. I'm sure there's a happy medium, but not everyone is bright enough to get that.

I don't know. I'm glad that you aren't her though. She'd be boring to talk to, being as screwy as me. said...

Is this a bad time to ask you for a job?

Anonymous said...

She'll work in the corporate world for a couple more years, if that, and then leave and never look back. Corporate is not for everyone. -blu

UrbanStarGazer said...

I know what you mean. I remember interviewing people for file clerk jobs 10 years ago who expected to be paid $65K to $80K a year (and this was in 1997) because they just graduated college and "all my friends are making that much". Yeah but, your friends have useful degrees in hard sciences or other areas and not in French literature, political science or other non-specific majors.

I recently had an employee tell me that she needs a $20K a year raise because she lives in one of the nicest areas on San Francisco and is paying $2,500 a month for her one bedroom apartment and as a result, she can't afford to contribute to her 401K plan. I wanted to ask, "Why is it my responsibility to give you a huge raise because you're living beyond your means?" It was absurd.

I also have a niece who just won't get a job and support herself. She's always looking for that get rich scheme which never works out. I've explained to her that if there really was a way to easily get rich quick without having to do anything . . . everyone would be doing it. She has a degree in English but doesn't want a normal job and floats from job to job and just quits whenever she wants. Her parents pay all her bills so she doesn't have to worry about any of that mundane sort of stuff but, I look at her and worry.

I could go on and on and on about this subject but, suffice to say . . . the younger generation confuses, amazes, and appals me.